duke of cambridge @ islington

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British pubs aren’t what they used to be rank, smoke-filled flea pits that serve grub that could have been scrapped out of a dog bowl. The Duke of Cambridge in Islington bills itself as the world’s first certified organic (gastro)pub and is a blinding beacon of the future of food. It doesn’t view the concepts of profitability and being ethical as mutually exclusive. There’s no GM food, no chemical fertilisers, they brew their own draft organic lager and ale, all the wine is certified, and its food is organic apart from that caught by hunting and fishing. Which sounds revolutionary, despite the fact that for all the knowledge we’ve gained and the state we’ve put the planet in, it should be common practise. Its produce is shipped from as close as possible to limit environmental pollution from transportation. Tea, coffee, sugar and chocolate are fair trade, and its fish is obtained from non-depleted stocks, using sustainable fishing methods. Even the place’s electricity is solar or wind generated. Sure, I hear you mutter uncovinced, but is the food any cop? Absolutely. There’s a restaurant if you want to be served at your table, otherwise it’s orders at the bar, and the menu includes dishes like Beef Carpaccio, Rocket & Confit Shallots and Roast Wood Pigeon with veg. The prices are a bit steep, but the place was heaving when I was there anyway. Which goes to show, it can be done, and suggests that any kitchen that continues to serve items like shark’s fin soup and veal demonstrates a real lack of imagination; chefs should embrace alternatives as a culinary challenge and opportunity for experimentation. Food can have a conscience AND be creative.

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